Decorating each side of the fireplace the best way will insure it compliments the fireplace mantle. Here we'll show 4 clever design ideas to furnish and decorate the recessed niche areas beside the fireplace.
First, know that you have several options. You are not limited to the normal built in bookcases.
1) Wall to wall mirrors with consoles
This will make your room feel more open, as if it has more windows. Mirrors reflect light and add a sheen that compliments all the flat dull items such as a wool rug.
Beside this fireplace, the mercury mirrors add reflection, but the mercury mirrors make it more SUBTLE reflection, so you won't see yourself clearly. It's a great alternative option! Better yet, you can even choose heavy or light finish.
2) Chests for storage, to create symmetry.
You don't have to built in wall units. Consider matching chests! That way, you can take them with you when you move to a new home! Often called "Bachelor chests"...if you're ordering them just make sure they're large enough in size and scale to hold their own next to a substantial size mantle.
3) A tall tree, as shown below.
Some people like to be unique, and they don't need symmetry. See below, you can do whatever you like on the left or right side of your fireplace.
4) A serving area or mini bar.
It could be built in, like below, or free standing bar so you can take with you when you move. This works great if one area is plenty long enough for plenty of counter space and storage.
For a recessed niche on each side of the fireplace, be unique. It's nice to think outside the box. You are not limited to the typical built in wall unit or bookshelves. Don't get me wrong, built in wall units can be a great way to display collectibles! But they can be very expensive to build, so it's nice consider all your options.
If you need function add a mini bar. If you want a more open feeling, create the above look with mirrors! If you prefer symmetry, you have lots of options such as matching chests, a matching pair of console tables, or a pair of chairs.
For many more photos of options for each side of the fireplace or mantle, see this link: